In recent weeks I have had a few students being worried about virtual interviews, especially those which are pre-recorded, or online networking with employers, and how to develop rapport through a webcam. Some feel the challenge is to connect with the interviewer, as the setting is not face to face. Other worry their motivation or enthusiasm doesn't shine through. And when there is no person on the other side, how can you develop rapport with someone who isn’t there? Here are some tips I have found from personal experience, research and in conversations with employers.
- Smile and eye contact
In my appointments with students, eye contact and smiling almost makes me feel we are talking face to face. Smiling and looking right into the webcam will make the person on the other side feel like you are looking right at them. On great tip here is to have the camera at eye level! If you struggle with looking into the webcam, practise with friends or record yourself through Graduates First and get comfortable with the process. In addition, look at this recent research regarding how a smile changes a person’s face completely and the effect it has on others, even with a mask on.
- Use vocal inflection
As it is harder to show body language in the virtual space, using your voice as a tool to develop rapport becomes even more important. Consider your speed, your pitch and how clearly you speak. Using your voice as a presenting tool becomes even more important in virtual interviews. Here is a link to a pre-pandemic blog with some excellent tips.
- Visualize a person on the other side
What if there is no person there? According to this recent blog the writer uses a technique he learnt from an interview he read of Oprah Winfrey. Oprah said that she imagines her best friend at the other end of the camera and that helps her develop warmth and rapport even if she can’t see the person. Maybe have a go and see if this visualization process works for you and imagine the ideal person in the interview situation you are in?
- Be the best version of you that can you be
Before joining the interview or engaging with employers online, make sure you are feeling good, or at least as good as you can be in a nervous situation. Make sure you had some good sleep, eaten well, have researched the employer and know why you are engaging with them. In addition, consider going through a little exercise ritual beforehand to warm up your body and voice, it certainly helps me, and here are some tips for you to do just that. The better you feel in yourself, the easier it is to portray that friendliness and motivation you want to have come across.
- Have your camera on
And last but not least, have your camera on (if you can)! I read an article recently where employers said they were surprised how many students at virtual fairs or in employer meetings didn’t have their camera on. It is hard to develop rapport with an employer if you don’t show your face. Having your camera on may be daunting, but the chances are that the employer will remember you much more clearly if they see your face and your smile.
Want more resources and advice?
Have a look at our Get Started – Interviews guide for more tips on video interviews and virtual assessment centres. You can also talk interview preparation strategies in a careers appointment, booked through MyFuture.